Brandon Aiyuk

Why 49ers re-signing Aiyuk, not trading him, makes too much sense

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Even with all the comings and goings on the 49ers’ roster, this offseason has been all about wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

And it will continue to be that way until there is some resolution.

There is one week before the draft and there has yet to be any credible information to suggest Aiyuk will be heading elsewhere in a trade.

But things can change in a hurry, so it’s too early to completely rule that out, either.

The 49ers would listen if another team wanted to pursue a trade with Aiyuk. And that team would have to pay twice for him.

Any team interested in Aiyuk would have to part ways with a valuable draft pick (or two) while also providing Aiyuk with the kind of lucrative, multi-year contract that he is seeking this offseason from the 49ers.

Would it make sense for that team? Would it make sense for the 49ers?

Depending on the compensation package, general manager John Lynch would take a major gamble in parting ways with Brock Purdy’s favorite target and a player at a position in which the 49ers are woefully thin.

After Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, the 49ers’ next-best receiver is Jauan Jennings, who caught 19 passes for 265 yards in 13 games last season. The 49ers do not even have a No. 4 receiver at this point.

Sure, the 2024 NFL Draft is expected to produce some quality wide receivers, but we also know how difficult it is for young wide receivers to quickly adapt to the scheme and the demands of Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

Of course, Aiyuk is not taking part in the 49ers’ offseason program, which opened Monday at the team’s training facility in Santa Clara. He can be expected to not take part in any voluntary activities until the sides come together on a new contract.

And if history serves as a predictor, it could take a while.

George Kittle, Fred Warner and Deebo Samuel signed their second contracts with the team right around the opening of training camp in late July.

And Nick Bosa got his big deal last year in the middle of the week leading up to the first game of the regular season.

Lynch recently told Bay Area reporters there were a lot of different scenarios for Aiyuk. He did not rule out the possibility that no long-term extension is signed before the start of the season and Aiyuk could play the final year of his contract at the scheduled price of $14.1 million.

“We have a good history of working with the guys we want to get done, and it takes two sides,” Lynch said. “So can we do that? We’ll see.”

Aiyuk’s agent, Ryan Williams, recently shot down unsourced online reports that Aiyuk has requested a trade and that the Pittsburgh Steelers are aggressively pursuing Aiyuk. Williams labeled the report about the Steelers as “fictional.”

Williams and Lynch are good friends, so the tenor of the negotiations can be expected to be cordial and professional. There should be open lines of communication at every step of the way.

The only Pro Bowl-caliber player Lynch has traded was in 2020, when defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was dealt to the Indianapolis Colts in mid-March.

When the 49ers hold onto a player deep into the offseason, they have found a way to keep him around.

Aiyuk particularly is important to the 49ers because he works so well with Purdy, whom the 49ers figure to sign to the richest contract in franchise history next year.

Purdy’s strength is his ability to make throws in the middle of the field, and that is where Aiyuk excels, too. With Purdy’s ability to make accurate throws in traffic, it enables Aiyuk to make the grab at full speed and turn upfield for significant yards after the catch.

The 49ers landed a big-time player when they traded up six spots to draft Aiyuk at No. 25 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft.

It seems as if some team would have to offer something extraordinary for the 49ers to release such a good catch at this point in the offseason.

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